The Thin Line Between Solitude and Isolation

Perhaps one of these days I will learn how to write about experiencing depression while it is happening. Currently, though, when I am depressed, I just feel like I’m in one of those dreams where walking is so arduous that I feel I am getting nowhere. I figure there aren’t that many people who want to read a page of words like this.

Ugh.

Ouch.

Whew.

Oops.

Huh.

Dang.

How.

Why.

Pain.

Can’t.

You get the idea. Seems that the desire I have for solitude — quiet, aloneness, freedom, often morphs into isolation, which means remaining alone or separate from others. And where solitude can be healing and restoring, isolation ends up being depressing.

It’s been a long time since I have been in a consistent group of friends. The last group I remember really thriving in was in Australia. The members of our band, the couples in our Bible study, the friends I did religious education with in the schools, the people we went to church with. Since that time, our groups have usually faded away, as we were often in academic settings, and students come and go.

I need alone time, but I also need time with people. When I am alone too much, I think I don’t want to be with people. When I am with people, I realize how easily I can become unbalanced with too much alone time. Sometimes it feels like there can be no such thing, as my role as mom is a busy one, with lots of needs to fill and attention to give and questions to answer, and as much as I love those things, sometimes they make me pretty tired. When I’m tired, the only thing I want to do is be quiet.

Depression and isolation go hand in hand, and not just for me. One brings on the other, and each encourage the other to continue. And, oh boy, when that cycle gets going, there are questions like “Do you even know how to be a friend” and “What’s wrong with you” that echo in the depression chamber.

Something in my writing tonight reminds me of my very favorite childhood band, The Carpenters. Karen’s voice always resonated in my deepest heart. I love the words here, and even though there are plenty of senses in which I haven’t just begun, there are other ways that I have. Each day is a new opportunity to learn and to live, and this song reminds me of that.

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